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Head to the internet for craft ideas

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
Dear Mom's Corner:
I have two children who love to do craft things. Unfortunately, they are so expensive the children just don't get them very often. Do you have any ideas for inexpensive craft kits or ideas?
E. B.
Dear E. B.:
I agree many of the craft kits are expensive. I also run into the problem of what one child wants to do isn't suitable for another child but, of course, they want to do it anyway. At that point, we either have bunches of tears or a craft kit that's wasted.
I have found that most of the time the contents in the craft kits can be bought separately and, for the same price as the craft kit, you get double or triple the supplies. I'm also always on the lookout for copycat versions for the popular craft kits. For example, I found an internet site that gave directions on how to make homemade Shrinky-Dinks. I can hardly wait to try it out. I'll let you know the results.
Patterns for crafts like plastic canvas, cross-stitch, beadwork, and friendship bracelets can be downloaded from internet sites for free.
As I have recommended before, the internet is a wealth of information. Here are some web sites that I just love: craft/ , , and
The last one has many free patterns for things like cross-stitch, plastic canvas, etc. There are many, many others. I usually try out a craft before I do it with my kids. This also allows me to discover if it will work for my kids' age groups or if I need to modify it for the younger ones.
My 10-year-old discovered friendship bracelets and fell in love with making them. It had been about 10 years since I made a friendship bracelet and didn't have a clue how to do it. I went online and found great directions at I pulled out my embroidery floss. I worked through one to make sure it was simple enough for her, then I let her try to follow the directions on her own. She did a great job.
I've also found that sometimes the kids don't care if they make anything. They really just want to play and that's why I'm a big fan of play clay.
I found this recipe on the back of an Arm &Hammer baking soda box about 10 years ago. The great thing about this recipe is that you can use it like PlayDough or you can use it like clay and let it harden. It usually won't crack like PlayDough does and it can be easily painted after hardening. Here's the recipe: 2 cups baking soda, 1 cup cornstarch, 1 1/2cups water; put ingredients in a sauce pan; cook on low heat about 15 minutes or until it begins to look like mashed potatoes. Place cooked dough in a bowl or on a large plate to cool before molding. After molding, allow to harden for 24 hours before painting. If you wish to color the dough, you have to use candy coloring–do not use food coloring.
Crafts can be very educational, because most children learn better by doing, seeing, and feeling. Learning how to make a craft, such as the friendship bracelet, teaches children how to read and follow instructions. For younger children learning their letters or shapes, this dough can be wonderful. They can practice writing their letters in the dough using a Popsicle stick or they can just make the letters out of dough. If you use the clay dough, the kids can shape the letters of their name, let it harden, paint them, mount them on a board and hang it in their room.
I hope you enjoy your craft time with your children. Remember, don't strive for perfection–it will end up stressing you out and aggravating your children. This is a time to make some memories and enjoy your children. They will only be this age once (thank goodness!). If you have a tip, suggestion, or question please send it to: Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496, Hartselle, AL 35640 or email: